USB 3.0 SuperSpeed update to eliminate need for chargers

By on April 22, 2013, 4:00 PM

While the imminent arrival of next-gen USB and Thunderbolt interfaces is no longer fresh news, ComputerWorld brings to attention one potentially revolutionary detail: the next iteration of USB will deliver enough juice to effectively power any device without the aid of unsightly wall-warts.

To do this, USB 3.0's move from 5Gbps to 10Gbps will be accompanied by significant bump (pdf) in power delivery -- 100 watts instead of just 10 watts. With that kind of juice, everything from full-size external hard drives to displays -- and even laptops -- could all fall within the purview of USB's new-found bus power. 

That's an enormous improvement over today's limitations where small devices like external HDDs, cell phones and tablets can push power draw limits.

One example shown at Intel's Developer Forum was of a Lenovo laptop, a LCD monitor and other peripherals all simultaneously being powered by a USB SuperSpeed hub.

To help make certain things are safe and standardized, USB 3.0 is expected to have five different power profiles (pdf):

  • Profile 1: 5V @ 2.0A
  • Profile 2: 5V @ 2.0A or 12v @1.5A
  • Profile 3: 5V @ 2.0A, 12V @ 3A
  • Profile 4: 5V @ 2.0A, 12V or 20V at 3A
  • Profile 5 : 5V @ 2.0A, 12V or 20V at 5A

While convenience is an obvious benefit of increasing the power output for USB, there is one less conspicuous bonus: greener electronics. Billions of power adapters for portable electronics are chucked into the trash each year. USB's pending upgrade stands to reduce that number by a significant margin.




User Comments: 37

Got something to say? Post a comment
1 person liked this | Ravik Ravik said:

I think I hear my surge protector rejoicing!

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

To do this, USB 3.0's move from 5Gbps to 10Gbps will be accompanied by significant bump (pdf) in power delivery -- 100 watts instead of just 10 watts.
Am I missing something here? Are they changing the pinout to compensate for higher power requirements?

PCIe uses 6-pin/8pin to deliver 75W/150W, but yet USB 3.0 will deliver upto 100W's. 100W's on the same 2-pin connections that have available for over 15 years.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Now if only I could buy a computer case and motherboard without a Firewire port. Die already!

*looks atop his 600TM and grimaces*

JC713 JC713 said:

Now if only I could buy a computer case and motherboard without a Firewire port. Die already!

*looks atop his 600TM and grimaces*

ASUS Z77s dropped firewire finally. But sadly, I dont know of any cases.

As for this tech, will this come with Haswell or in the future?

cmbjive said:

Yowzers. I can eliminate a bunch of wires in my office.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

This is excellent news for everyone, since everyone uses the ubiquitous micro USB standard for mobile phones!

...wait.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This has been talked about so much these last few years, that is the idea to eliminate proprietary charging adapters, but has not really gone anywhere more than the look we can do this better stage. Just to have the idea ignored and a new standard for charging e-crap instead. The issue I see is running out of USB ports, especially 3.0 ports which are finally being used as the only port not as a bonus 2 + 2 system which is pretty useless. Why cant they just replace the charging adapter with a USB wall adapter that can then be reused with the next phone. Because face it, even if everything can charge by USB not everyone will want to, thus forcing them to ship with that a wall charger AND a USB charger... Which is how it already works. It's almost like a perpetual motion machine, but the only thing being perpetuated is FAIL...

As for powering other devices that are going to need a computer to work, like an external hard drive, that I see as being a good thing. Theres no way in hell I'm powering my monitor off my tower, thats just stupid, plugged in to the power bar is where it belongs. Because where does that 100 watts come from? Well the power supply, which are barely adequate in most computers leaving the factory as it is. I can just see someone plugging in their monitor, multiple phones, hard drives, ect, and then the power supply goes.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

100W from 10W seems a bit radical, especially in the age of power efficiency. It is also not possible to feed that much energy into each USB socket, maybe in all of them combined, but that will make things only more complicated.

A professional desktop comes with not less than 4 USB 3.0 as standard, some have 6. They cannot have 100W each, it would require an insanely powerful PSU, and impose quite a change on the chipsets.

The most hungry external device to be connected to a PC is a monitor, but even today's most power-hungry monitors do not consume that much. My new DELL U3014 consumes up to 60W, because it is 30", while the smaller ones need less.

Anyway, I'm not sure what to make of it, seems like a crazy change. We all wait for Haswell as the next great step in power efficiency, and suddenly caboom, 100W USB 3.0, damn...

JC713 JC713 said:

100W from 10W seems a bit radical, especially in the age of power efficiency. It is also not possible to feed that much energy into each USB socket, maybe in all of them combined, but that will make things only more complicated.

A professional desktop comes with not less than 4 USB 3.0 as standard, some have 6. They cannot have 100W each, it would require an insanely powerful PSU, and impose quite a change on the chipsets.

The most hungry external device to be connected to a PC is a monitor, but even today's most power-hungry monitors do not consume that much. My new DELL U3014 consumes up to 60W, because it is 30", while the smaller ones need less.

Anyway, I'm not sure what to make of it, seems like a crazy change. We all wait for Haswell as the next great step in power efficiency, and suddenly caboom, 100W USB 3.0, damn...

I wont be surprised if this is only for desktops. It makes no sense for laptops. Where there are low voltage CPUs and GPUs, there are low voltage ports.

FF222 said:

"USB 3.0 SuperSpeed update to eliminate need for chargers"

Great news. So now we won't have to carry around that bulky 2" chargers. Instead we can just carry around a 16" laptop with us.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

No, you will have to carry a dedicated laptop for each 100W USB port that you intend to use.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Interesting, I'm guessing the connected device will decide which voltage it pulls. A bit surprised it will offer 20v @ 5a but I suppose 3.3v + 5v + 12v = 20.3v.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

To do this, USB 3.0's move from 5Gbps to 10Gbps will be accompanied by significant bump (pdf) in power delivery -- 100 watts instead of just 10 watts.
Am I missing something here? Are they changing the pinout to compensate for higher power requirements?

PCIe uses 6-pin/8pin to deliver 75W/150W, but yet USB 3.0 will deliver upto 100W's. 100W's on the same 2-pin connections that have available for over 15 years.

The voltages are the key. PCIe doesn't deliver its current over 20V. I believe it does 12V and 5V rails?

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Another thing... they didn't say laptops would all support the highest profiles.

"One example shown at Intel's Developer Forum was of a Lenovo laptop, a LCD monitor and other peripherals all simultaneously being powered by a USB SuperSpeed hub."

In that example, the laptop is not delivering the 100W power. The laptop is connected to a powered hub which is delivering the power via it's own connected power source.

Seventh Reign Seventh Reign said:

100W from 10W seems a bit radical, especially in the age of power efficiency. It is also not possible to feed that much energy into each USB socket, maybe in all of them combined, but that will make things only more complicated.

A professional desktop comes with not less than 4 USB 3.0 as standard, some have 6. They cannot have 100W each, it would require an insanely powerful PSU, and impose quite a change on the chipsets.

The most hungry external device to be connected to a PC is a monitor, but even today's most power-hungry monitors do not consume that much. My new DELL U3014 consumes up to 60W, because it is 30", while the smaller ones need less.

Anyway, I'm not sure what to make of it, seems like a crazy change. We all wait for Haswell as the next great step in power efficiency, and suddenly caboom, 100W USB 3.0, damn...

You do realize that just because it is capable of outputting 100 watts does not mean 100 watts are actually being used right? If you have 1000 watt Power Supply, your PC is not using 1000 watts. It only means that is the maximum it is able to push at any given time.

Besides the fact that 100 watts spread over 6 or even 8 USB ports would be FAR more than sufficient for pretty much anyone.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The voltages are the key. PCIe doesn't deliver its current over 20V. I believe it does 12V and 5V rails?
Power is power and it is measured in Wattage. Voltage is irrelevant, raising the voltage only means there will be less amperage needed for the same power level (Volt*Amp=Watt). I was referring to the PCIe power cables from the PSU which is 12V not 5V. But since you mentioned it I now have another question.

Would this mean a PSU redesign is in order to compensate for 20V at higher amperage ratings? Or would the motherboard include a voltage amplifier, to compensate for the PSU's lack of +20V source? Every time the voltage is stepped up or down there is a loss of power, which would decrease the efficiency rates.

[link] , unless you combine the +12V and -12V's for a grand total of 24V. And even then the power rating is limited to the weakest rail which is always the negative side. You would have trouble finding a power supply that delivered 100W while using the negative rail, unless the PSU was redesigned.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

A bit surprised it will offer 20v @ 5a but I suppose 3.3v + 5v + 12v = 20.3v.
Those voltages have a common ground not a floating ground, you can add them that way. Its the same as taking 2 steps forward or taking 10 steps forward. If you did one or the other you can't add the two.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Power is power and it is measured in Wattage. Voltage is irrelevant, raising the voltage only means there will be less amperage needed for the same power level (Volt*Amp=Watt). I was referring to the PCIe power cables from the PSU which is 12V not 5V. But since you mentioned it I now have another question.

I know power and voltage. My point is regarding circuit board design. There was no way you could deliver 100W at 5V or 3.3V with the existing lines. You need decent sized conductors to move currents that large.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

My point is regarding circuit board design.
True

I guess I'm really questioning the connectors capability to maintain connection, without causing electrical sparks within the USB port every time a cable wiggles. I'm not very enthusiastic about putting so much power on such a structurally weak connector.

treetops treetops said:

Lol whether you plug into your usb 3.0 or a wall socket, your still going to have a bunch of wires

Puiu Puiu said:

To do this, USB 3.0's move from 5Gbps to 10Gbps will be accompanied by significant bump (pdf) in power delivery -- 100 watts instead of just 10 watts.
Am I missing something here? Are they changing the pinout to compensate for higher power requirements?

PCIe uses 6-pin/8pin to deliver 75W/150W, but yet USB 3.0 will deliver upto 100W's. 100W's on the same 2-pin connections that have available for over 15 years.

They don't need to change the power pins. 2 are good enough if the cables and connections are ok. And they should be - USB cables are pretty sturdy in my opinion. 20V should not be enough to fry them considering I have a really cheap USB cable that is rated for 30v. The same with the microUSB cable I use for my phone.

.

1 person liked this | WillemVanVliet WillemVanVliet said:

I cannot fathom the number of aspects that will prevent a USB outlet to produce 100W.

A desktop nowadays has 4 USB 3 ports, so you will have to assume a user _could_ add 400 watts of extra power requirement to the system. So your PSU will have to be sizely, pushing Game systems to the 1000 watt PSU's.

Your Motherboard will never allow for 400 extra watt over the circuit, so the USB ports will have to be connect tot eh motherboard for data and directly to the PSU for power.

The USB cable is also not up to scratch. You could make them thick enough (As thick as the cable from your powerbrick to your laptop for example). But the current headers are exposed, proving a possible hazard. The 'pins' in the connector are not isolated from each other (other then a minute amount of space) and far to thin.

A laptop's internal power regulator doesn't exceed more then 100Watt of capacaty. Adding even two times that much will never work inside the tight package. (heat alone)

So I have no idea where they are going with this.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

You do realize that just because it is capable of outputting 100 watts does not mean 100 watts are actually being used right? If you have 1000 watt Power Supply, your PC is not using 1000 watts. It only means that is the maximum it is able to push at any given time.

Yes, somehow I do realize that both the 100watt for USB and 1000watt for a PSU are the maximum figures, thank you for pointing out the obvious.

Besides the fact that 100 watts spread over 6 or even 8 USB ports would be FAR more than sufficient for pretty much anyone.

That is not the fact at all. The new specification suggests 100watt as the maximum output per 1 USB port. And you cannot spread it in the way mentioned, because this way you will have no idea which device will pull up to how much energy, hence whether it will even work properly or not. It would create a nightmare for the end user dealing with that uncertainty.

2 people like this | VitalyT VitalyT said:

Ok, guys, this thing kept me awake till late, so I did some research, and here's the answer to all your questions...

When a USB device is connected it sends in a request to negotiate the power profile according to the needs of the device. The maximum supported by USB 3.0 is 4.5 watt (and not 10 watt).

The new USB spec simply moves the cap up to 100 watt as the maximum that a device can try to negotiate for (try is the keyword). Up until now no device could request for more than 4.5 watt from USB, such request would just fail.

This however imposes nothing extra on the USB, except not to send request-fail just because the device wants more than 4.5 watt. Instead, the request-fail will be guaranteed if a device wants more than 100 watt. But this doesn't mean that the new USB has to support more than 4.5 watt of energy. IT DOES NOT. The new USB must prove provide the output: 4.5 <= Output <= 100 watt.

To give it a good life example. Up till now when you are buying a device that provides USB 3.0 ports you didn't care about the maximum output on those ports, because they were supposed to provide 4.5 watt each, even if in practice that didn't always work, depending on the manufacturer and the controller. But now you will also be paying attention to the maximum output figure you can get from those USB ports, either separate or combined, so you can run it up against the devices you plan on marrying it with.

This does complicate things for the end user, as now one has to pay attention to the extra specification parameter, as each device with new USB ports will have its own cap somewhere between 4.5 and 100 watt, according to its spec.

I hope this clears things out.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

A bit surprised it will offer 20v @ 5a but I suppose 3.3v + 5v + 12v = 20.3v.
Those voltages have a common ground not a floating ground, you can add them that way. Its the same as taking 2 steps forward or taking 10 steps forward. If you did one or the other you can't add the two.

It was more of a comment on the decision to have 20v as adding voltages in series does not increase the current.

Guest said:

This power requesting should work, but I have my doubts. On usb2 even I have a usb HD which *will* cause one pc I have to shut down, whenever its plugged in. Didnt fry anything, and on removal and rebooting everything was fine. Just wondering how marginal was that PS to cause that??

freythman freythman said:

Now if only I could buy a computer case and motherboard without a Firewire port. Die already!

*looks atop his 600TM and grimaces*

Have you purchased a mobo/case recently?

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Ok, guys, this thing kept me awake till late, so I did some research, and here's the answer to all your questions...

When a USB device is connected it sends in a request to negotiate the power profile according to the needs of the device. The maximum supported by USB 3.0 is 4.5 watt (and not 10 watt).

The new USB spec simply moves the cap up to 100 watt as the maximum that a device can try to negotiate for (try is the keyword). Up until now no device could request for more than 4.5 watt from USB, such request would just fail.

This however imposes nothing extra on the USB, except not to send request-fail just because the device wants more than 4.5 watt. Instead, the request-fail will be guaranteed if a device wants more than 100 watt. But this doesn't mean that the new USB has to support more than 4.5 watt of energy. IT DOES NOT. The new USB must prove provide the output: 4.5 <= Output <= 100 watt.

To give it a good life example. Up till now when you are buying a device that provides USB 3.0 ports you didn't care about the maximum output on those ports, because they were supposed to provide 4.5 watt each, even if in practice that didn't always work, depending on the manufacturer and the controller. But now you will also be paying attention to the maximum output figure you can get from those USB ports, either separate or combined, so you can run it up against the devices you plan on marrying it with.

This does complicate things for the end user, as now one has to pay attention to the extra specification parameter, as each device with new USB ports will have its own cap somewhere between 4.5 and 100 watt, according to its spec.

I hope this clears things out.

Are you saying, based on your research, that if you plug a device into an updated USB 3.0 port, it could give it too much power, or cause damage to the port and/or device in some way?

1 person liked this | Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Are you saying, based on your research, that if you plug a device into an updated USB 3.0 port, it could give it too much power, or cause damage to the port and/or device in some way?

No he didn't say that at all. Just that if you try to plug a 100W device into a hub that won't supply 100W, the hub says "no I can't supply that" and the device won't start.

Another implication is if you want up to 100W, there will be hubs out there that are supported by the spec that *can* give you your 100W.

He also said that if you plug in a device that wants > 100W, the spec says USB 3.0 is guaranteed to say "no you can't have > 100W".

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

No he didn't say that at all. Just that if you try to plug a 100W device into a hub that won't supply 100W, the hub says "no I can't supply that" and the device won't start.

Another implication is if you want up to 100W, there will be hubs out there that are supported by the spec that *can* give you your 100W.

He also said that if you plug in a device that wants > 100W, the spec says USB 3.0 is guaranteed to say "no you can't have > 100W".

To: Shiv and VitalyT

I think the below link is the opposite of what you two said. Correct me if I'm wrong please. I genuinely want to understand the new spec. I am not quite understanding your explanations.

engadget.com/2012/07/23/usb-100w-power-delivery-spec/

"Naturally, the new specification relies on beefier cables to deliver maximum juice, but we won't have to go replacing all our old wires -- it includes a means to check attached cables and devices and set the voltage and amperage accordingly. Perfect, that means we won't have to carry around bundle of proprietary power cords when we travel, and we get peace of mind that charging via USB won't have any, ahem, unpleasant side effects."

1 person liked this | VitalyT VitalyT said:

To hahahanoobs: Are you trying to confuse here everybody? I condensed information as much as I could for people here to make sense out of it. But if you think this is not enough, then the following is for you:

1. Open the official USB 3.0 documents page: http://www.usb.org/developers/docs/

2. Click on the top link that says Universal Serial Bus Revision 3.0 Specification, or, alternatively, the specification download link: [link]

The archive is 23MB. Once downloaded, open document USB Power Delivery\USB_PD_V1_0+Errata Oct31.pdf, which is Universal Serial Bus

Power Delivery Specification (308 pages).

Either go through the contents table or jump to page 284, chapter Power Profiles.

Enjoy

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Have you purchased a mobo/case recently?

Considering stores have a backlog from 2008, even a brand new case may be old gear.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

To: Shiv and VitalyT

I think the below link is the opposite of what you two said. Correct me if I'm wrong please. I genuinely want to understand the new spec. I am not quite understanding your explanations.

engadget.com/2012/07/23/usb-100w-power-delivery-spec/

"Naturally, the new specification relies on beefier cables to deliver maximum juice, but we won't have to go replacing all our old wires -- it includes a means to check attached cables and devices and set the voltage and amperage accordingly. Perfect, that means we won't have to carry around bundle of proprietary power cords when we travel, and we get peace of mind that charging via USB won't have any, ahem, unpleasant side effects."

You are talking something a bit different there. Cables are a different issue entirely. Cables *do* have current ratings. 100W @ 20V = 5A. USB 2.0 delivered 5V and 0.5A by spec if I remember correctly. Out of spec hubs could supply 1A (for USB hard drives and so on).

So moving from 0.5A to 5A is a pretty hefty increase in current and the cables could get warm and potentially other related issues (maybe like causing the explosions you mention). As for the controllers themselves, they negotiate current limits.

If you want to use high current USB devices, buy good cables!

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

"If you want to use high current USB devices, buy good (high power) cables!

*fixed*

You just repeated what I said in my reply.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

To hahahanoobs: Are you trying to confuse here everybody? I condensed information as much as I could for people here to make sense out of it. But if you think this is not enough, then the following is for you:

How can I personally confuse anyone? I posted exactly what Engadget wrote and it makes total sense. USB is not as complicated as you're making it seem... never was... never will be. I'll stick with Engadget on this one.

Assuming you're saying the same thing, using words like Hu, less than and greater than symbols, formulas and over-explaining (did I make a new word) a simple process, makes it very hard to understand for no reason.

It's USB, not a spaceship.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

"If you want to use high current USB devices, buy good (high power) cables!

*fixed*

You just repeated what I said in my reply.

Cables are not rated in power. They are rated in current.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Cables are not rated in power. They are rated in current.

*sigh*

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.